And then I realized adventure was the best way to learn – Anonymous
When I started my teaching career in India, teaching in a different country was one of my goals. I had just completed around six months of my teaching career and I wanted to accelerate and diversify my career graph by taking this leap.
In my opinion if one is planning to work in the K-12 segment, then one should have the nerves to be adventurous. Teaching overseas for a period of minimum two years can really open a plethora of opportunities both abroad and in the home market also, as it is a clear indicator to potential employers that you have developed excellent cross-cultural communication and adaptation skills and you are cross – culturally sensitive.
Before analysing the advantages and challenges of teaching abroad, let me present my viewpoint on the demand of Indian teachers abroad and the prerequisites to teach abroad in some of the most prominent destinations of the world.
How to get Teaching jobs abroad
International Education Careers
Teacher migration – A paradigm shift
India has become one of the most fertile zones as supplier of trained school teachers to developed countries. In fact GEMS Education, the company that I worked for in Dubai which is the largest operator of K-12 schools in the world, conducts teacher recruitment drive in major cities of India at least twice a year to cater to its Indian curriculum schools in U.A.E. This is just one example and there are many agencies hiring Indian teachers for South East Asia, Australia and U.S.A.
The global labour market has witnessed a fundamental transformation. Earlier the demand was for Indian software engineers, doctors and business managers but after the dotcom bubble burst we are witnessing openings for grey collar overseas job opportunities like teachers, nurses and chefs.
This can be attributed to the tilting of axis from supply-determined migration to one that is now determined by demand. This means that we have moved from being a job-seeking economy to one that is being driven by demand in developed nations for services and migrant workers from developing countries.
Hence we see a relaxation of rules in acquiring Permanent residency for countries like Canada, Australia and obtaining a company sponsored work visa in U.A.E is not so challenging. Naturally there is a mushrooming growth of educational institutes and schools in developed countries represented by a huge influx of migrant population which helped companies like GEMS Education to majorly flourish in the Gulf.
In America, the teacher shortage has become acute due to a number of factors, like retirement of many baby boomer teachers and the higher standards of teaching expected from teachers under the federal legislation known as No Child Left Behind Act.
The greatest demand is for math, special education and science teachers. This has resulted in a pandemonium to recruit teachers from developing nations to fill the growing number of vacancies in public or charter schools in U.S.A. Apart from India, the Philippines and the Caribbean, both of which have large English-speaking populations, are major recruitment centres.
According to a paper published by UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), the world requires to recruit 25.8 million teachers to provide every child with a primary education by 2030 or be prepared that 33 countries won’t have enough teachers to provide every child with a primary education.
Therefore, irrespective of the economic turmoil, the education sector will require the best and the brightest of the brains and India with its surplus working age population is considered as the potential haven for overseas recruitment.
Qualifications required for teaching abroad
Qualification required to teach abroad depends on the curriculum that one wants to teach. For example, to teach in an Indian curriculum school like C.B.S.E or I.C.S.E board, a Bachelor’s in Education degree would suffice. Gulf and South – East Asian countries have a lot of Indian curriculum schools catering to the Indian diaspora.
However, if one wants to teach in an international curriculum school a professional qualification is required. The most sought after qualification happens to be PGCE (Postgraduate certificate in education) offered by U.K universities. PGCE is the teaching qualification that 80% British overseas schools look forward to, including teacher recruitment agencies that conduct job fairs in major cities of the world.
This course is offered by Keele University every year in Bangkok and by Nottingham University in Bangkok, which happens to be the nearest Indian centre to pursue this course as no branch of UK University in India offers this course.
Schools in USA have different requirements state-wise; therefore a British or an Indian qualification will not suffice unless if someone gets a teaching job offer in U.S.A and then the American school will have to register for an M.Ed in U.S.A which is a very long process.
For an American qualification, Framingham State University conducts summer programme in Bangkok and the course which is offered is M.Ed International teaching and M.Ed TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
However the courses mentioned above are expensive but it’s worth a one-time self-investment on education. The best international schools, offering the most competitive expatriate packages, prefer candidates having at least two years of domestic teaching experience along with PGCE.
Some of the leading recruiting agencies for international teachers are Search Associates, Carney and Sandoe associates for U.S schools, TIE online, Teacher Placement Group (TPG which places Indian teachers in state schools of U.S.A) etc.
Another common route to teach abroad is to teach English as a foreign language (EFL). This is mostly preferred by graduates fresh out of college without any professional teaching experience. Although it’s possible to find EFL teaching jobs without any experience or qualifications, the majority of language schools require a university degree in any subject and a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certificate.
There are lots of online TEFL certification courses but the most official happens to be CELTA (Certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages) which is a 120 hour training course offered by British Council .
Apart from the recruiting agencies one can keep checking for vacancies on the school website and directly apply and wait for the outcome. I feel networking matters a lot and who knows a LinkedIn contact could be a prospective employer.
Also companies like GEMS Education conduct their recruitment drive every year in India as well as U.K to hire teachers for their Indian as well as international curriculum schools. Well crafted curriculum-vitae, cover letter and one’s philosophy of education would give the necessary edge in the interview screening process.
School heads witness a huge volume of candidates during recruitment drives and job fairs conducted by agencies. Hence it is necessary to have a professional resume laced with action words to list out one’s accomplishments and impact under each position rather than just mentioning duties performed.
For example a statement like ‘Tutored an eighth grade student in algebra, using teacher’s curriculum to raise his grade from a C to B+ over the course of a year’ would add more weight to your resume as compared to ‘Tutored an eighth grade student in algebra’.
Salary and perks for teaching jobs abroad
Overseas teaching is one of the most cost-effective ways to live and travel abroad as apart from salary most schools offer accommodation. Most of the best deals can be found in Asia where cost of living is relatively low. International schools offer 3,000 USD to 5,000 USD per month along with accommodation depending on experience and qualification. South East Asian countries, South Korea and China attract teachers by offering flights and accommodation among other perks.
For even better salaries one can consider countries in the Middle East, such as the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Doha and Saudi Arabia as these are tax-free countries. Perks not only include joining airfare and visa procurement charges for employee as well as dependents but also annual airfare for family, freight allowance, medical insurance, free or subsidized tuition for kids and accommodation.
Right now Kazakhstan is another sought after destination to teach. With salary equivalent to 4000USD – 5000USD along with annual airfare twice a year , medical insurance ,accommodation along with coverage of utility bill and internet does make it worth working in that country.
Indian curriculum teachers should expect less. For example in Singapore, teachers teaching in Indian curriculum schools earn between 1,500 SGD – 2,000 SGD with no accommodation and company visa as most of the teachers happen to be housewives of Indian expats.
In U.A.E teachers recruited from India can expect a salary range of 4000 AED to 6000AED along with accommodation, work visa for self only and joining airfare. Again the salary and perks depends on the company policies and varies with different schools.
However, an interesting point to note would be that even if an Indian teacher works in an International curriculum school in Gulf, their salary is not equivalent to their European or American counterpart even if they hold the same or better qualification and teaches the same class or holds the same designation.
They are paid as per Indian curriculum schools, might be a bit more, but almost one third of their European counterparts. The same colour of education can be witnessed in India where expat teachers working in India earn more than their Indian counterparts.
Countries like U.S.A have strict federal laws and teachers are paid equally irrespective of their nationalities.
Country specific education system
Education system of a country is not only dependent on the country’s historical past but also is influenced by its culture, ideals and values. Hence while educating students one needs to understand the cultural intricacies and respect the cultural norms of the country.
In this section I would like to elaborate some teaching guides for some of the most common international teaching destinations around the world.
International teaching in Korea
With a long drawn tumultuous history of the Korean peninsula, South Korea has evolved to catch up with impressive industrial advancements within 60 years of its sovereign rule thanks to the government’s increased focus on education. This has ensured South Korea to be one of the top ten countries in most measures of national education.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea ranks third in the world in mathematics and science education. There is a huge demand for ESL teachers and it happens to be one of the most preferred destinations for fresh graduates or trained teachers from countries where English is the native language.
Teachers in South Korea must be certified by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Human Resource Development and certified educators must participate in continuous professional development activities.
It would be prudent to respect and align oneself with the constellation of Confucian ideals which is based upon virtue, sincerity, respect and tradition unlike Western philosophy which is based on deductive reasoning.
Hence Korean employers lay emphasis on respecting the umbrella of hierarchy and rarely believe in questioning the logic behind performing a task in a particular manner as they have a deep rooted respect for their culture and responsibilities passed by their ancient culture.
International teaching in China
Chinese government follows the Nine-Year Compulsory Education Program, which entails providing nine years of government-funded schooling to each child starting at the age of 6. This has resulted China to be the world’s largest education system.
China has one of the most robust teacher development systems and historically it has been one of the most highly respected professions in Chinese society. As a result of this Chinese students have consistently showed stunning performance on the international PISA exams where they outscore students of all other nations in math, reading, and science which has positioned China as a world education leader also popularly known as “Sputnik Moment,” by American educators.
Again like South Korea there is a great demand for native speakers to teach English in the Land of Confucius.
International Teaching in Japan
Teachers in Japan need to undergo training at an accredited university to gain their teaching certificate, but the specific requirements necessary to work as an educator vary by program.
Japanese public school from the elementary to upper secondary level is free. Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology regularly introduces new reforms and initiatives in an effort to provide students with the best possible schooling opportunities.
At present, the ministry is developing a lifelong learning program to educate citizens of all ages by promoting measures to realize education in which schools, families, and local communities cooperate.
International Teaching in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan the largest of the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union is also the richest country in Central Asia, due to its large oil and natural gas reserves. The president of the country, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has set up the state funded Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools which are intended to change the way education is delivered to gifted and talented secondary school children.
Students are educated in a tri–lingual environment in Kazakh, Russian and English. Besides teaching one’s subject, teachers are also expected to informally mentor local Kazakh teachers and introduce best practice especially with respect to critical thinking.
The Kazakh national curriculum underwent constructive development with support from the University of Cambridge International Examinations with an increasing emphasis on a student-centric, skills-based approach, while retaining the best of the current curriculum.
International Teaching in the U.A.E
United Arab Emirates has been witnessing one of the largest education reforms in the world after the production of ‘black gold’ in 1970s. The U.A.E National Agenda 2021, which coincides with the U.A.E’s 50th National Day and launched by the ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, expects U.A.E to be among the top 20 countries in the PISA test.
The PISA score is an indicator that measures the country’s ranking and scores in the PISA exam, which evaluates the reading, mathematics and science skills of 15 year old students and is conducted by OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development).
To come up to this target the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), the educational quality assurance and regulatory authority of the Government of Dubai, conducts annual inspection of private schools and publishes the school’s rating with a detailed report on its website.
Hence new teachers should refer to the KHDA website to research about the school and other necessary details regarding teacher turnover which is a good indicator of the school’s work culture. However in general, startup schools are exempted from KHDA inspections for a period of first three years of its operation.
International Teaching in the UK
Most of the school-aged children in the UK attend public schools and follows the National Curriculum of England for students aged 5 – 16 years. The curriculum is divided into four key stages; the first two correspond with primary education and the last two for the curriculum of secondary education.
The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) oversees the teacher certification process in the United Kingdom. Teachers in the United Kingdom must hold both at least a Bachelor’s degree and must have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). QTS is mandatory to teach the state schools which can be achieved by completing PGCE.
After achieving QTS one becomes a newly qualified teacher (NQT) where teachers need to do induction training for 3 terms and their performance is reviewed. On completion of this, QTS is confirmed and teachers become permanent staff.
Apart from schools in U.K, there are a lot of schools offering British curriculum worldwide. To ensure whether such school is an ideal place to teach, one can check the school’s accreditation on its website.
One of the most recognized accreditation sources happens to be COBIS (Council of British International Schools) which provides global quality assurance to its member schools.
If a school has COBIS membership, then it is definitely worth working there as the membership application process is robust where schools are requested to provide comprehensive information about varied aspects like child protection policy, class size, school salary scale, staff qualifications etc.
International Teaching in the U.S.A
The education system practiced in U.S.A is almost the same as that of U.K with few differences. The key differences are a shorter academic year as compared to U.K. The control and governance of U.S schools is also different as authority over public (state-funded) school education in the US rests primarily with individual state departments of education.
The school curriculum can vary from state to state and even between school districts within a state as most policies are set at the state and local levels. Although there is no national curriculum, the general content of the high school curriculum across the country is quiet homogeneous.
Due to the absence of a national curriculum, students do not prepare for national examinations such as the GCSEs, AS or A-levels. Rather they work toward completing a high school diploma (the requirements are determined by each state), and are assessed for university entry based on GPA, rigour of classes taken (AP, honours, regular) and admissions tests like SAT and ACT.
Students are continuously assessed throughout the semester in different ways like, essays, quizzes, assignments, classroom participation, projects and attendance. Hence to find information on curricular standards or teacher certification, the state board of education website is the best source of information
What to expect in an international teaching job?
Moving half way across the world to work is a thrill in itself. Definitely people will have expectations and one should not expect the comfort and warmth of one’s home country.
My next article would be focusing on the highs and lows of teaching abroad. It is natural to expect that everything will be all right and the only way to ensure what to expect is by doing a thorough research before accepting anything.
Having said this and keeping in mind that overseas teaching has its pros and cons I still feel I took the right decision to leave the security of my native place. If remuneration is the only driving force then I feel it is a very myopic way of looking at such things because there are other fringe benefits that matter a lot.
For me it was only after I abandoned the comforts of familiarity, I simultaneously became a teacher as well as student. I started taking my baby steps which made me cautious and open to new ideas and work style. The feeling of lightness over-weighed the heaviness of success which I had tasted in my home country.
Exposure to so many cultures opens one to alternate values and beliefs in a way that is geographically impossible. For as many places as there are in the world, there are an equal number of lessons a teacher can bring back home. Ultimately, it is the very act of changing your life so drastically, is the recipe for growth. Not always pleasant growth but growth indeed.
For example having worked in U.A.E which follows monarchy system I am now in a better place to critically analyse and debate the pros and cons of living in a democratic country like India as compared to a monarchy system, thus adding one more page of sagacity in the book of my life.
Image credit: Yasmeen Hossain
Editor’s note: We are no longer accepting comments on this article. Please check out the other articles written by Yasmeen and feel free to post queries related to those.
Teaching for a living
Dennis Vilorio | June 2016
If you dream of inspiring the minds of the future, consider teaching. Across all education levels, teachers engage students in learning every day.
Teachers give students the knowledge and tools to succeed both in school and beyond the classroom. “I know that I have a huge impact on my students not just now, but for the rest of their lives,” says Lydia Shelly, a high school math teacher in Glendale, Arizona. “Seeing them rise to the challenge gives me great pride.”sel
A career in teaching is also projected to have many job opportunities in the coming years. Between 2014 and 2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects nearly 1.9 million job openings for teachers of preschool through postsecondary school.
Keep reading to learn more about teaching opportunities in schools. Find out what the work involves, how jobs vary by grade level or specialty, what it takes to become a teacher, and more.
A teacher’s day
For many teachers, the workday starts early and ends late. Job duties vary by subject and grade level, among other factors. But teaching generally involves class preparation, instruction time, and after-school duties.
Class preparation. Teachers spend a lot of time preparing for their students. This may include both setting up a classroom prior to the start of the academic year and readying lessons and assignments they plan to cover each day.
Among teachers who have their own classroom, many use visual devices and seating arrangements to create an inviting learning space. For example, they may put up maps, change decorations with the seasons, and display inspirational quotes. Or they may arrange desks in groups or a semicircle to encourage participation.
Preparation for day-to-day teaching may take place inside or outside the classroom. In advance of each day’s lesson, teachers review the topics they plan to cover; write or adjust a lesson plan; and create tests, homework, or other assignments. Improvising in the classroom isn’t a good idea. “Being prepared is crucial and sets a good tone for the class,” Shelly says. “If you go in without a plan, your students will sense it.”
Lesson plans often follow a curriculum. In postsecondary schools (such as colleges and universities), the curriculum takes the form of a course syllabus developed with input from the department. In elementary, middle, and high schools, the curriculum may be set by the state, school district, department, or special mandate (such as a charter).
The curriculum lays out broad learning goals and standards, helping teachers figure out how much time to spend on each topic. Lesson plans break up these goals into smaller, specific pieces that allow for focused instruction—with some leeway. “We have to follow the curriculum to keep up with the goals,” says Adrienne Davenport, a preschool teacher in Portland, Oregon. “But every day is different, and we try to balance learning with fun.”
Instruction time. Teachers often start class by introducing the lesson. To help students understand the lesson better, the introduction might cover terminology, offer context, and show how the topic relates to others. Teachers might use visual aids to summarize the lesson and announce assignments and upcoming tests.
Some teachers are with the same class all day; others have a few classes throughout the day with different students. Class sizes vary by grade level and subject, too. Teachers may have an assistant to help lead daily activities, small groups, or labs.
Providing instruction also involves using strategies to manage the classroom. Teachers may try to structure activities to keep everyone focused, for example. “If it’s just lectures, class is boring,” Shelly says. “Including group activities, moving around, and using the board to visualize the concepts lets students feel successful in their own way, so they stay engaged.”
Teachers routinely assess student progress and may offer extra help to students who fall behind. Homework, tests, and informal assessments give teachers a sense of how well students are learning the curriculum.
After-school duties. Teachers often continue working after the final bell rings. For example, they might sponsor student clubs, chaperone events, or grade assignments.
Before or after class, teachers may have office hours to help individual students, discuss an assignment, and offer advice. They also attend a lot of meetings: with other staff, with school officials, and with parents to discuss student progress or share tips and materials. Teachers also keep in touch with parents and students over the phone, online, or by email.
Some teachers may take on additional responsibilities outside school, acting as consultants or participating in professional organizations. “Becoming involved in these organizations has made me a better teacher and leader,” says Kenneth Huff, a middle school science teacher in Williamsville, New York. “You can learn a lot with the help of others who do what you do.”
By the numbers
BLS data show variation in employment and projected growth in teaching occupations. Wages also differ, based on factors such as grade level and geographic location. For example, in May 2015, postsecondary teachers earned about $10,000 more per year than elementary school teachers ($64,450 compared with $54,890). And teachers in Alaska generally had higher wages overall than those in Montana. But nearly every teaching occupation earned more than the $36,200 median annual wage for all occupations in May 2015.
This section presents data breakdowns by grade level: preschool and kindergarten through high school (K-12) teachers, postsecondary teachers, and special education and other teachers.
Preschool and K-12 teachers. Employment of teaching occupations in preschools and kindergartens and elementary, middle, and high schools totaled about 3.6 million workers in 2014, according to BLS. As table 1 shows, the biggest occupation was elementary school teachers, which accounted for about 37 percent of employment in this group. BLS expects most of these occupations to have average employment growth between 2014 and 2024.
|Occupation||Employment, 2014||Employment growth, projected 2014–24 (percent)||Job openings, projected 2014–24||Median annual wage, May 2015|
|Elementary school teachers||1,358,000||6||378,700||$54,890|
|Secondary school teachers||961,600||6||284,000||57,200|
|Middle school teachers||627,500||6||175,500||55,860|
|Career/technical education teachers, secondary school||79,600||0||19,200||56,130|
|Career/technical education teachers, middle school||13,700||6||3,900||55,190|
But employment growth tells only part of the story: Some occupations are expected to have many job openings because of the need to replace teachers who retire or leave for other reasons. And often, the larger the occupation, the greater the number of needed replacements projected. For example, job openings for elementary school teachers are projected to number close to 380,000, many more than the 3,900 openings projected for middle school teachers of career and technical education.
How much these teachers earn varies by occupation. Annual wages were highest in this group for secondary school teachers at $57,200. (Secondary schools are also commonly known as high schools.) Other K-12 teachers earned wages in the $50,000 range, with the exception of preschool teachers—who earned about half that amount ($28,570).
Postsecondary teachers. Postsecondary teachers (commonly referred to as professors or instructors) work in community colleges, universities, technical and trade schools, and other institutions of higher learning. They instruct students in a variety of disciplines, including business, engineering, and music. BLS data show there were nearly 1.9 million postsecondary teachers employed in 2014. (See table 2.) Overall, these occupations are projected to have faster than average employment growth and more than half a million job openings—and over half of these openings are expected to come from the need to replace teachers who leave.
|Occupation||Employment, 2014||Employment growth, projected 2014–24 (percent)||Job openings, projected 2014–24||Median annual wage, May 2015|
|All postsecondary teachers||1,869,400||12||550,600||$64,450|
|Health specialties teachers||210,400||19||77,200||90,840|
|Vocational education teachers||138,500||7||33,600||49,470|
|Art, drama, and music teachers||120,700||11||34,400||65,340|
|English language and literature teachers||90,800||10||25,500||61,990|
|Nursing instructors and teachers||68,600||19||25,400||67,480|
|Biological science teachers||64,300||16||21,800||75,320|
|Mathematical science teachers||63,500||16||21,700||67,170|
Because there are so many types of postsecondary teacher occupations, table 2 shows those with the most employment. Projected job growth varies by occupation. For example, BLS projects faster than average employment growth (19 percent) between 2014 and 2024 for both health specialties teachers—the largest postsecondary teacher occupation—and nursing instructors and teachers. By comparison, employment of vocational education teachers, which also had high employment, is expected to have average growth (7 percent).
Health specialties teachers also had the highest median annual wage of the occupations in the table at $90, 840. Wages for all of the occupations shown in the table were higher than the median for all workers. Vocational education teachers had the lowest annual wage ($49,470) of all postsecondary teachers; law professors, not shown in the table, earned the highest annual wage ($105,250).
Special education and other teachers. There are other opportunities available for schoolteachers. Special education and other teachers work with students who have special needs, who want remedial help, or who need literacy instruction.
According to BLS, there were 876,800 special education and other teachers in 2014. As table 3 shows, self-enrichment teachers had the highest employment (although most of this was outside schools, because they teach self-improvement and nonacademic subjects), projected growth, and projected job openings—but also had the lowest wage. BLS prepares employment data that separate special education teachers by grade level, but all grades combined show these teachers accounted for about half of all employment.
|Occupation||Employment, 2014||Employment growth, projected 2014–24 (percent)||Job openings, projected 2014–24||Median annual wage, May 2015|
|Self-enrichment education teachers*||348,700||15||119,200||$36,680|
|Special education teachers, kindergarten and elementary school||198,100||6||49,800||55,810|
|Special education teachers, secondary school||134,000||6||33,100||58,500|
|Special education teachers, middle school||93,000||6||23,000||57,280|
|Adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers and instructors||77,500||7||20,100||50,280|
|Special education teachers, preschool||25,500||9||7,100||53,990|
All but one of the teaching occupations in this table had median annual wages over $50,000 in May 2015. Self-enrichment teachers, who earned $36,680, were the exception.
Ups and downs
Teaching can be both gratifying and draining. You’ll spend a lot of time dealing with students and staff. Each day may bring a series of rewards and challenges, so it’s helpful to be aware of what to expect if you become a teacher.
Rewards. For many teachers, helping students learn is the best part of the job. Teachers say they like sharing their passion for a subject matter and watching students’ reactions when they grasp a concept. “I love seeing my students grow and the excitement in their eyes when they’re learning,” Davenport says.
Teachers also enjoy getting to know their students. They may develop a bond with some students and continue to support them through the years. It’s rewarding for a teacher when these students consider him or her not just an educator, but also a mentor, a role model—and, in adulthood, a friend.
And teachers say they enjoy working with people who value education as much as they do. Teachers often become a support network for each other, sharing materials, camaraderie, and advice. “Try to get feedback from as many teachers as you can,” says Mieke Cranford, a high school English teacher in Alexandria, Virginia. “Everyone does things differently, and you can learn something from all of them.”
Another highlight of teaching, educators say, is that the diversity of lessons mean that every class is different and no two days are alike. In many schools, the academic year lasts 10 months, allowing teachers time to travel, relax, or earn additional income during their breaks.
Challenges. Teachers say that classroom management is one of their biggest challenges. Keeping students interested and engaged in a lesson requires a lot of energy, especially when students have varied learning styles and absorb the material at different rates. Keeping the classroom under control can be stressful for teachers when bored or discouraged students disrupt lessons.
Long hours are another drawback to teaching. Teachers often arrive at school early and leave long after students are gone. Their workload sometimes requires spending time outside of school to grade assignments, prepare materials, and complete student assessments or other paperwork.
Teachers also may get frustrated with federal, state, or local oversight that affects schools. For example, education standards that use test scores to measure student performance may limit how much time teachers spend on a topic. And budget cuts to school funding may result in decreased program offerings, increased class sizes, and other setbacks. Teachers say such actions put the burden on them to maintain the same quality of education with fewer resources.
Becoming a teacher
Before leading your own classroom, you’ll have to learn to be a teacher. You need skills, education, and other qualifications to be eligible for employment in teaching occupations.
Skills. Communication skills, both written and oral, are critical for teachers. At all education levels, teachers must be able to express information in a clear and engaging manner and to listen and respond to students’ questions. They also write reports, give feedback on assignments, and interact with many types of people—including parents, colleagues, and students.
Empathy, resourcefulness, and patience help teachers to engage students at a personal level and to find learning strategies that fit individual abilities. To “hook” students into a lesson, for example, teachers may use different educational tools. “They don’t have to learn everything from me,” says Shelly. “I might show a video that explains a concept or skill, expand on the topic through additional instruction, then reinforce the learning with a game.”
Organizational skills are also important. Teachers juggle many moving parts every day: lesson plans, assignments and tests, and meeting times, to name a few. Meticulous recordkeeping, such as creating a spreadsheet, helps teachers stay on track.
Education. Education requirements for new teachers vary by occupation. Two teaching occupations usually need less than a bachelor’s degree for entry: self-enrichment teachers (high school diploma) and preschool teachers (associate’s degree). All other teaching occupations typically need at least a bachelor’s degree, with postsecondary teachers usually requiring a master’s or doctoral degree.
K-12 teachers in most states usually need a bachelor’s degree. Prospective teachers take education courses to learn different instructional techniques and communication styles appropriate to their students’ level. For example, education majors planning to teach kindergarten and elementary school may need to take a course in child psychology.
Other qualifications. To work in public schools, teachers usually need certification or a license. This may mean completing a teacher education program and passing tests that demonstrate subject-matter and instructional knowledge.
Teacher education programs prepare teaching candidates to work in the occupation. These programs often include internships—commonly known as student teaching—that require teacher candidates to work with a mentor teacher and gain experience in the classroom.
Most states also require teachers to pass a background check and to complete continuing education classes or seminars in order to maintain their certification or license. National Board Certification is a voluntary credentialing option that may allow teachers to bypass continuing education in some states, but it does not replace each state’s individual requirements. Some states have alternative teacher certification or reciprocity agreements with other states to encourage people to enter or continue in the occupation.
No matter how they get their credentials, many teachers say they make a career of it for the chance to make a difference. “I love teaching for a lot of reasons,” says Shelly. “Wanting my students to have more access to opportunities in life is what keeps pushing me.”
For more information
To learn more about teaching occupations, visit theOccupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). Each OOH profile includes detailed information about job duties, wages, job outlook, and more. You can also find profiles for occupations related to teachers, such as teacher assistants and instructional coordinators.
A Career Outlook article describes the work of a health educator.
The U.S. Department of Education has a variety of teacher resources, such as lesson plans, FAQs, and recommendations for improving classroom performance.
Teacher associations, such as the National Education Association and the Association of American Educators, offer career resources, scholarships, lesson plans, and more. To learn more about a specific type of teacher occupation, visit any of the following organizations:
If you’re interested in working in underserved areas, you may have additional options:
- The Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program allows for cancellation of up to $17,500 in federal student loans if you teach for 5 years in a low-income community. Visit TEACH or contact one of your state’s education agencies for more information.
- Teach for America is a nonprofit organization that works to improve educational opportunities in low-income communities by offering an alternative path to teaching.
Dennis Vilorio is an economist in the Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections, BLS. He can be reached at (202) 691-5711 or email@example.com.
Dennis Vilorio, "Teaching for a living," Career Outlook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 2016.